Gaming Licences in Japan

Back in 2018 the development of Japan’s esports scene was greatly restricted because of the country’s centuries-old gambling legislation which meant for Japan players the offering of any prize monies was effectively banned from any tournament, but then JeSU (the Japanese esports Union) was formed in the February of 2018 which was to change all of that forever.

JeSU is a collaboration of game publishers and other related companies that are involved within esports and this coalition was formed to represent and also promote the industry as a whole. If we fast forward to 2019 then the success that JeSU has already achieved has brought about some pretty significant government regulations as well as changing the somewhat negative perception, allowing the Japanese esport industry to grow dramatically.

Who are the Main Players?

There are three main independent esports associations within JeSu:-

  • The eSports Promotion Organization.
  • The Japan eSports Federation
  • The Japan eSports Association

This union was also supported by the Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association (CESA) which purpose is to promote the whole of the video games industry and organize the Tokyo Game Show, the Japan Amusement Machine and Marketing Association, the Japan Online Game Association, and the Association of Media in Digital.

There are 42 regular members of JeSU to date and is made up from Japanese video games developers, publishers and other interested parties large and small including:- Bandai Namco, Capcom, Arc System Works. Microsoft, Sony, and Tencent Japan amongst others.

As was mentioned earlier, Japanese legislation included gambling laws which were decades old, and were in fact originally set in place to deter organized crime. Unfortunately, these laws had also been interpreted in such a way that they prevented esports from offering cash prizes over the value of 100,000 yen ($934) which of course limited the development of the esports scene greatly.

One of the most fundamental successes of JeSU early on was to work about these laws by creating categories of ‘Pro Gaming’ licenses which permit the holders of these licenses to compete against each other in tournaments – for cash prizes.

There are three types of licenses available which are:-

  • The Japan eSports Team License
  • The Japan eSports Junior License
  • The Japan eSports Pro License

The introduction of these licenses opened the door wide to those Japanese video game players and teams who wanted to make a career out of esports through the cash prizes which could now be offered during tournaments. Games being played using these licenses include Tekken 7, Call of Duty Black Ops, Puyo Puyo and Street Fighter V Arcade Edition.


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